Before Vance Henderson took on the role of U.S. ambassador for Drambuie, his passion for crafting began with a culinary background. Whether he’s mixing the latest trends into boozy cocktails or sharing his love for the “the living liquid legend” across 50 states, Henderson strives to always create something spectacular that is both delicious and leaves people talking. We sat down with him to discuss his tips and tricks, favorite parts of the process, and what being a #Maker means to him.
How long have you worked with Drambuie? How did you get involved with the company?
I’ve been in the ambassador role (U.S.) with Drambuie for about a year and a half now officially. Prior to that, I was an associate ambassador for about two years, just for Washington D.C. Hendrick’s Gin was my very first brandand it did so well that the company just gave me more brands to work with. Before working on the brand side, I owned a catering company and have also been a bartender for 15 years.
I think my background in the food and hospitality industry definitely helps. I approach ingredients when I make cocktails the same way I would when I curate a dish or plate for someone. If by chance someone enjoys what you put your hands and heart into, then that satisfaction is bar none.
How has your experience been in the coffee cocktail realm?
It’s been so awesome working with Chameleon Cold-Brew because it’s another avenue to explore. Coffee cocktails haven’t really been explored yet and it’s really just started to catch fire in the last year and a half. The whole cocktail realm of coffee has been around for a while, but you tend to think of mixing hot coffee with a liqueur and maybe some whipped cream. But here, we have this explosion of cold brew coffee that can be used in so many different ways. It’s mind boggling the things you can do with both of these products.
Do you have a favorite flavor that you like to put in your cocktails?
I don’t know if you’d call it favorite but I do have two go-to flavors: Mexican ready-to-drink and the Vanilla concentrate. They both work really well, and it is kind of a match made in heaven: Drambuie and Chameleon Cold-Brew, because both the liquids standalone by themselves and can be delicious but when you pair them together, they don’t lose their finish and still shine brightly with other ingredients.
What other trending ingredients are being added to Drambuie cocktails?
The shift towards sustainability and farm-to-table mindset has become increasingly more accessible. The trend is to use fresh ingredients and incorporate fresh herbs into cocktails. Many managers and owners in the restaurant industry, however, were weary of using fresh herbs and fruit juices because of the high cost and short shelf-life. This trend is still strong regardless, like using fresh mint in cocktails for example.
We try to pull all these trends together and take them to the next level. For example, day drinking has become more popular, whether it is weekend parties or brunches. Being able to create cocktails that are not as boozy and straightforward as evening drinks makes the experience more accessible and enjoyable for bartending during the day with these outside-grown ingredients.
What is your personal favorite Drambuie + Chameleon Cold-Brew concoction?
The very first cocktail and one I really enjoyed was the Java Royale. It’s just so simple and easy-to-make but also contains complex flavors.
However, one I find myself making often is a caramel cider, since I’m a huge fan of apples.
.75 parts Drambuie
.75 parts Reyka Vodka
½ part CCB Caramel
½ part lemon juice
2 parts apple cider or an apple juice
Shaken over ice
Half lemon wedge or an apple slice
It’s just so good. These are ingredients you do not have to get a dictionary and think, “What the hell am I drinking?” This apple cider works perfect for the fall season all the way through the winter. You can make it for yourself or a big punch bowl for an event or a gathering in your house.
Want to try more Chameleon Cold-Brew and Drambuie recipes? Try the Cuff & Collar cocktail made with Drambuie Scotch Whisky and Chameleon Cold-Brew Espresso Coffee.
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